For the 40 years anniversary of the great Diva’s demise, the Greek National Opera presented a Gala Evening at the Herodus Atticus Theater on September the 16th, with three sopranos , Celia Costea, Christina Poulitsi and Myrto Papathanassiou, with the Orchestra of the Greek National Opera (G.N.O), under the baton of Ilias Voudouris.

In a totally packed auditorium we were presented with arias which were all related to the Callas repertoire. Just before that , the Mayor of Athens presented to the ex President of Spain Felippe Gonzalez, the Medal of Democracy of the City of Athens. Unfortunately the audience was not informed in advance of this, so when the Mayor ascended the stage to give a speech, the audience become to be annoyed, the problem worsened when Felippe Gonzalez gave his speech in Spanish with an erratic simultaneous translation, which went on and on. Almost twenty minutes later the concert began.

Celia Costea is an important presence in the International Operatic Scene, especially in Athens with a repertoire that borders at the edge of her voice capabilities. The voice sounded tired, with a notable vibrato, but the voice still has volume and dramatic power. Her interpretations were very personal , but I prefer her in the Puccini repertoire where I feel her voice is at its best…she is a Lyric Soprano, not a Lyrico-Dramatic one.

Myrto Papathanassiou was a notable presence, i especially liked her rendition of the aria from “Romeo et Juliette” by Gounod ( I suspect it is a rehearsal for the presentation of the opera this season at G.N.O), if she sings the correct repertoire for her voice she will have a great career.

The night however, belonged to the young coloratura Soprano Christina Poulitsi, who really stole the evening with her presence (the best dressed of the evening, with a superb black dress by Celia Kritharioti, and jewels by KESSARIS) and her vocal abilities. Her rendition of Delibe’s “Bell Song” from Lakme was exceptional to which the audience deservedly gave a real ovation.

 Rarely have I heard such perfection of tone, such excellent coloraturas , in my opinion ,dare I say it with all due respect, she sang the piece better than Sutherland. I hope that the Greek Opera takes the hint and uses her appropriately, as in fact I recently heard she has signed up already.

All in all an enjoyable evening which closed with the three sopranos singing Norma.

One must mention the Orchestra of the national opera which gave it’s best under the dynamic direction of Ilias Voudouris.